Joe Lieberman’s campaign website is offline at the moment, “suspended” by its host. Lieberman claims his site was hacked; that seems like inartful phrasing, as I don’t think a denial-of-service attack technically counts as being “hacked,” and a DoS attack is most likely what’s going on. But while Lieberman’s explanation may be inartful, the lying bastards at Daily Kos are having a field day, claiming without substantiation that Lieberman simply didn’t pay his bills and is now blaming Lamont supporters for it. An e-mailer wrote, and Kos posted:
They are claiming we hacked their website. Unfortunately for them, an astute observer caught the screen shot asking them to contact the billing department. They just didn’t pay their bills.
Except, that’s NOT what the screenshot says. It says “contact the billing/support department,” not “contact the billing department.” The slash means “billing or support.” The message is nonspecific — it is the same boilerplate template used for all account suspensions, regardless of whether they’re billing-related or support-related (i.e., technical issues). But Kos is convinced:
“Suspended”. Accounts are generally suspended for one of two reasons: 1) inappropriate or illegal content (which we can obviously rule out in this case), or 2) from lack of payment.
That is simply not true. Those are NOT the only reasons an account is “generally suspended.” Back when I was on Total Choice Hosting, I got the exact same message — “Please contact the billing/support department” — when my website was shut down on several occasions due to bandwidth overages or excessive CPU usage caused by comment-spam, either of which could very easily occur if someone has set up a bot to take down Joe’s site. And I remember a few people making the same unwarranted assumption that Kos is making, that I must not have paid my bills because the word “billing” was mentioned in the error message. What people seem not to notice is the “support” part of “billing/support.” Anyway, it’s really rather irresponsible for someone as influential as Kos to be throwing around completely unsubstantiated accusations that the Lieberman campaign simply didn’t pay its bills and is now lying to the public. Kos’s claims are supported by nothing more than a misquote and a factually incorrect assumption. Lame.
P.S. While I was writing this post, Kos added an update to his site:
The Lieberman campaign has produced an email from their host claiming the outages came from a DoS attack.
It doesn’t pass the smell test — DoS attacks wouldn’t bring down a site for 18 hours (or however long their site has been down). So it could be their hosting provider is either covering for the Lieberman campaign, or perhaps more likely, it is simply incompetent.
Ah yes, it’s a conspiracy! The site’s commercial host is “covering for the Lieberman campaign”! Everything is a conspiracy and a cover-up in Kos World! But the notion that the Lieberman explanation “doesn’t pass the smell test” is pure bunkum; my site has gone down for very long periods of time due to DoS-type activity. I’m sure Lieberman’s people were working feverishly with their host’s support personnel, trying to get the site back up, but the problem is, they’re apparently on a shared server, so if their site is getting attacked, the host isn’t going to jeopardize every other account on the server by putting it back up right away. I’ve been through this several times; trust me. It sucks. It’s extremely frustrating. But it’s not at all difficult to believe.
It is puzzling that Lieberman apparently didn’t shell out the cash for a dedicated server. Maybe he thought he didn’t need it. And indeed, he probably wouldn’t have, but for the DoS attack. Kos’s statement that “the DoS ‘attack’ may have merely been strong pre-election traffic” doesn’t pass my smell test; no way was Lieberman’s official website getting enough traffic to force it offline. I don’t buy it for a second. Kos compares it to his own site, noting “how Daily Kos can grind and even crash on high-traffic days,” but c’mon — Joe2006.com isn’t DailyKos.com. Kos gets 500,000+ hits a day! I’m very, very skeptical that Lieberman was getting enough “natural” traffic to cause a server meltdown. However, a few well-positioned LamontBots (deployed by rogue supporters, not the campaign itself, no doubt) could easily do the trick.
Anyway, I need to get back to work. There are hours to bill! I just wanted to update y’all on this rather interesting development…
P.P.S. Texasyank thinks this is a sign of things to come.
UPDATE: Apparently there were two separate attacks. That makes the “didn’t pay their bills” lie even less plausible.
Also: it isn’t just the website. Lieberman’s staffers can’t get their e-mail because the entire joe2006.com domain is down. I hadn’t thought of that, but of course that would be true; I always lose the ability to get my brendanloy.com e-mail when there’s a server problem. That seems like a really big deal — the inability to e-mail each other on election day.
Anyway, here is Lamont’s official statement:
If Senator LiebermanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s website was indeed hacked, we had absolutely no part in it, denounce the action, and urge whoever is responsible cease and desist immediately. It is our sincerest wish that everyone planning to vote for Ned Lamont or Joe Lieberman does so today.
Can’t argue with that. Now if only Kos had the same degree of integrity, and would apologize for his totally unsubstantiated and unjustifiable smear against the Lieberman campaign, claiming that their whole DoS story is a lie and that really they just didn’t pay their bills. For shame, Kos.
UPDATE 2: Credit where credit is due: this post and this post by Kos sound much reasonable than earlier posts, and apparently the Lamont campaign has offered technical assistance to the Lieberman campaign, which is truly admirable.
That said, it’s rather galling to read Kos’s statement, “One side is acting mature, the other is running around making baseless accusations,” when Kos himself was, until an hour or so ago, baselessly accusing Lieberman’s side of having failed to pay their bill.
Anyway, contra Kos, I suspect that Lieberman has indeed been the victim of some sort of abusive practice that resulted in a bandwidth overage and/or the crashing of his server. I seriously doubt it was simply a massive election-eve and election-day traffic spike; that doesn’t make sense, especially since the troubles started last night (not during the work day, when web traffic is always highest).
However, I agree with Kos (someone write down the day and time!) that, if Lieberman’s campaign thought they could get by paying $15/month for site hosting, they were freakin’ dumb. I pay ten times that much for this site (well, with the help of my fellow “dedheads”; see blogroll at right), and I’m just a middling blogger, not a U.S. Senator running for re-election. Although I doubt anything would have gone wrong if not for malicious pranksters, the Internet is like the Wild West — you should always expect malicious pranksters. You want a setup that’s resilient to their actions, and even more important, you want a support team that is ready, willing and able to fix problems very quickly when they do arise. Relying on a low-end commercial shared server for somethting as important as your campaign website when you’re running for U.S. Senate is ludicrous.